What the future may hold?

Sermon St George’s Preshute, 28th October 2018, 10.00am
Second Sunday before Advent: Daniel 12.1-3 & Mark 13.1-8

brexitI think that I have managed so far this year not to mention Brexit in a single sermon. Today, however, I will. Don’t worry, this won’t be a ten-minute long political manifesto, nor an analysis of what I think post-Brexit Britain will look like – or whether there will be a post-Brexit Britain.

What I would like to do is draw some parallels between the readings this morning, and our own current political situation. I won’t focus so much on the issues at stake as Britain renegotiates its position within Europe, but on the process, and what it tells us about ourselves and possibly our relationship with God.

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We will remember them

Remembrance Sunday Sermon
St Mary’s Marlborough, 11th November 2018

PoppiesIt is good to see so many people here this morning: the Mayor and Town Council, members from the Fourth Military Intelligence Battalion, Cubs, Scouts, Brownies, Air Cadets and people from the Town. Thirty years ago, it was generally assumed that people would slowly lose interest in Remembrance Sunday, as fewer and fewer of us have lived through, let alone fought in, a war.

However, as we have commemorated the centenary of the First World War, the last four years have seen a renewed interest in the lives and stories of those who fought and died in the trenches. In many ways, I think that I, we, have very little authority to speak about them and their experience. Those who were there at the time and survived, were often unable to speak about what had happened, as it was too horrific to put into words, and so I would like to suggest that we can only do so, because we don’t know what it was like.

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To be a Saint is to be yourself

All Saints’ Sunday: Revelation 21.1-6a & John 11.32-44
Homily St George’s Preshute, 4th November 2018, 8.00am

IMG_1186The readings set for this year’s All Saints’ Sunday, make us particularly reflect on what happens when we die, in other words the transition from our earthly life to our heavenly life with God; and on what happens when time itself comes to an end, the so-called second coming.

Although I believe that the Christian hope and faith in a life after death is fundamental to our faith in God, I am not sure how helpful I find it to speculate what may happen when we die. Yes, I believe that death is not the end, but those who are left behind, regardless our beliefs, will have a sense of loss and pain when someone we loved we see no longer.

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Abide in my Word

Bible Sunday: Isaiah 55.1-11 & John 5.36b-47
Sermon preached St George’s Preshute, 28th October 2018, 10.00am

Today, the Sunday before All Saints’ Sunday, can be celebrated as Bible Sunday. As it is usually also the last Sunday of October, we can link this in with Reformation Sunday, remembering that on 31st October 1517, Luther allegedly put his 95 theses on a church door in Wittenberg, marking the beginning of the Reformation.

The Bible as we now know it, was formalised, so to speak, in the fifth century. Despite some differences, most Christians agree on the contents of what is now our Holy Book. However, although we may agree on the content, since the very early days of Christianity, people have disagreed on what it means to believe in the authority of Scripture.

Love

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Be Real!

Sermon preached at Keble College Oxford, 21st October 2018
Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity: Isaiah 53:4-end, Hebrews 5.1-10, Mark 10.35-45

First of all, thank you to the Chaplain for inviting me to preach here at Keble College tonight. Writing a sermon is in many ways not unlike writing an essay. You read, you think, you read again, and despite your intention to be well-prepared and organised, eventually you realise that still, you haven’t started writing yet the day before.

essay.jpg

I myself come from a physics background, so for a long time I was blessedly unaware of the process of writing essays – although working to the deadline wasn’t that uncommon for myself and most others! What struck me when writing essays was that some of them, in which I had invested a lot of time and effort, were subsequently marked disappointingly low. Others, which I thought were far less well-researched, would sometimes get marks much higher than expected. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had this experience.

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Art: A thing of beauty

The role of arts and the First World War

Sermon preached at the Calne Music and Arts Festival Evensong
14th October 2018, Genesis 4.3-11 & John 20.11-18

It is remarkable that in an era where society calls itself more and more secular, music, arts and literature festivals are increasingly popular. I would like to suggest this evening that a reason may be we are facing a level of disillusionment, and that arts, music and literature are a beacon of hope and truth. I would also like to suggest that this disillusionment is in many ways not dissimilar from where we were a century ago, at the end, and during the aftermath of the Great War.

David Jones
Copyright The Estate of David Jones

Of course, there are many ways in which our society is completely different now from the 1920s – as historians will be very able to point out. However, when I came across the following quote from the artist and author David Jones written in 1926, I sense that there are some parallels to be drawn too. In his first published essay since the Great War, Jones wrote that art must express contemporary culture and that, since today – 1926 – we are generally unable to create ‘a thing of beauty’, the only hope for authentic art is a counter culture determined ‘to avoid … the general decline.’[1]

Art: a thing of beauty, determined to avoid the general decline.

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Those whom God has joined together

A sermon preached at Marlborough College Chapel
7th October 2018, Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Mark 10.2-16

hands marriage
Photo credit Matthew Brown

Quite a controversial reading this morning, I suspect – I hope! When I looked at the reading suggested by the lectionary, my first thought was to choose another one. Although some of you may agree with my interpretation of this reading, I am almost sure that what I will say this morning may upset and offend some people. Others may think that I am plainly wrong. For someone who doesn’t like an argument, that’s not great.

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